Date: July 9, 2017
Event: Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix (Round 7 of 10)
Series: Prototype division of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
Location: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario (2.459-mile, 10-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 1st / 7th (Running, completed 120 of 122 laps)
Winner: Dane Cameron and Eric Curran of Action Express Racing (Cadillac DPi-V.R)
Point Standing: 1st (226 points, 19 ahead of second)
Lightning struck for the second time in a week for brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor during Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech Championship Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, but the drivers of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R escaped with minimal damage in the season-long championship.
After an opening-lap incident ended their five-racing winning streak and led to a sixth-place finish at last week’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, an incident while leading today’s two-hour, 40-minute event with just 20 minutes remaining relegated them to a seventh-place finish.
But while last week’s turn of events saw the team’s 30-point lead in the championship shrink to 20 markers, today’s outcome saw the lead go from 20 points to 19 with just three races left on the 2017 calendar.
The season-long championship is the ultimate goal, of course, but there is certainly disappointment in seeing the team’s sixth victory in the first seven events fall by the wayside after leading a race-high 73 laps and leading the field by more than 20 seconds with 20 minutes to go until the checkered flag was scheduled to wave thanks to brilliant strategy and pit work by the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. team.
Today’s lightning strike came in the form of contact and a subsequent spin into a tire barrier while Jordan Taylor was trying to make his way past a pair of GTLM-class competitors who were battling side-by-side. Taylor was looking to complete the pass to the right of No. 4 Corvette competitor Tommy Milner when contact to the left rear of the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R sent the two cars spinning off course. Taylor was able to continue in the lead but with significant damage to the rear bodywork of his racecear. It took just four caution laps for track workers to clean up the aftermath of the incident, but officials never opened the pit lane before the race went back to green with 10 minutes remaining. That left Taylor and his wounded racecar helplessly trying to get around the track safely under green while the rest of the field raced by. The slow trip back to pit lane and subsequent repairs cost two laps and seven positions by the time Taylor returned to racing with less than seven minutes to go.
“I’m not completely sure what happened,” Taylor said. “I saw the Ford and the Corvette racing side-by-side ahead of me, so I went where there was some room. I’m not sure when we touched, whether it was when I turned in or if he got bumped by the Ford, or got moved over, but it’s obviously disappointing. Our guys put us out front with strategy, calling the right race. We weren’t the fastest car but we were in a position to win it again. I have to thank these Konica Minolta Cadillac guys for that. It’s promising looking at the next few races that we’ve got one of the strongest cars out there and the strongest guys.”
Taylor was put in position to win when, while running second with 50 minutes remaining, a significant but brief rain shower sent the majority of teams to the pits for rain tires. But the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team, along with the Nos. 5 and 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R teams, gambled that the showers would dissipate quickly and opted for a fresh set of racing slicks.As the race was about to go back to green, the rain had stopped and the sun reappeared. Taylor briefly fell from second to fourth place on the still somewhat wet racetrack but, less than five laps later, the competitors on rain tires returned to the pits for slicks while Taylor stayed out on his slicks and found himself leading by more than 20 seconds with 28 minutes to go. He led 12 laps before the fateful incident.
His brother Ricky Taylor, who qualified on the pole in convincing fashion Saturday, did a masterful job of keeping the lead today for the first 48 laps, even though he was dogged his entire stint by the No. 85 Oreca LMP2 car of Misha Goikhberg. It wasn’t until the No. 4 Corvette inadvertently cut across the nose of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R while entering pit lane did the elder Taylor brother lose his momentum enough to enable Goikhberg to take the lead for the first time.
Goikhberg managed his lead for the next 19 laps until he and Taylor pitted for driver changes at the race’s midpoint. A clean fuel-and-tire stop and driver change to Jordan Taylor enabled the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R to retake the lead, where Taylor stayed for 12 laps before the No. 85 Oreca was able to slip past while negotiating GT-class traffic with now Stephen Simpson behind the wheel.
“The race started really smooth, we were in control,” said Ricky Taylor, who won this race with his brother in 2015 and finished third here in 2014 and 2016. “I was looking forward to a good points day after the first two stints. Then the rain threw a wild one at us, but we picked the right strategy to stay on slicks. It should have been a Cadillac 1-2-3. I am not sure what happened with the Corvette, looked like a wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time thing for Jordan. Just unlucky. We lost minimal points on the day. We are going onto Road America as the points leaders.”
The No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Eric Curran and Dane Cameron benefitted from the call to stay on slicks and won for the first time this season. They are third in the championship, 24 points behind the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team. The No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, who are second in the championship and started the weekend second in the championship, 20 points behind the No. 10 team, finished sixth today and are now 19 points back.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!